The core values and drivers for building future businesses – How born-sustainable and sustainability-driven companies contribute to the SDGs

Svenja Damberg, Ulla Saari, Morgane M.C. Fritz

Research output: Other conference contributionScientific


The principal values and drivers of born-sustainable and sustainability-driven companies are built in the core of the companies’ business models. These sustainable business model elements are crucial for achieving some of the critical SDGs in the business context. The emphasis given to sustainability values in born-sustainable companies, and their impact on the sustainable business model development of the companies from the very start, can help in creating more positive impact to society and the environment. Previously, the 3P’s (People, Planet, Profit) approach has given some general guidance to companies on how to consider social and environmental aspects, instead of too much focus on the financial success of a company. However, this is clearly insufficient, as the corporate social responsibility activities in many companies have not been incorporated tightly enough into their respective business models. In fact, we argue that those businesses focusing mainly on the profit side of their business will not be able to provide anymore safe solutions to society and the environment. The theoretical background in this research is based on the ecopreneurship and sustainable business literature. We apply a case study methodology with case companies from the textile industry, cosmetics industry and food sector, i.e. companies developing consumer products in large volumes with a strong social and environmental impact with their business activities. For this purpose, we use secondary data sources, such as public information on the case companies and their websites, and previous research on the companies. The case companies include, for example, Patagonia and The Body Shop.
We analyze how born-sustainable companies present themselves, including how they have built their business by focusing on their business history and core values. Some case companies have already been established before 2012 when the SDGs were formed and published in the UN conference in Rio de Janeiro. Therefore, we also assess to what extent these companies that are considered “born-sustainable” are living up to the SDGs, focusing on the goals that are relevant to the sector in which the company operates in. Based on our analyses, we address the topic of “building blocks for the post-SDG 2030 agenda” that could help in transforming the business context and address the key elements in the sustainable business models that future born-sustainable companies and start-ups need to already consider from their early entrepreneurship and innovation journeys. Moreover, these components could offer some guidance for incumbent companies that need to update and develop their business models in order to become more sustainable and aligned with the SDGs. Based on our findings, we present a conceptual model on how born-sustainable companies initially build their business models on a sustainable foundation that promotes the key SDGs. This will help to build more sustainable business ecosystems, i.e. ecosystems that focus on sustainable eco-quality and social practices as well as promoting sustainable consumption behavior that does not support overconsumption among consumers. Thus, born-sustainable companies with future-oriented sustainable business models and practices could help to ensure overall well-being in society and have a positive impact on the natural environment.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Publication typeNot Eligible
EventAnnual Conference of the International Sustainable Development Research Society (ISDRS) - Stockholm, Sweden
Duration: 14 Jun 202217 Jun 2022


ConferenceAnnual Conference of the International Sustainable Development Research Society (ISDRS)


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